Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stitch Fix Update (featuring one of the most WTF garments I've seen in a while)

I wasn't really planning to write another Stitch Fix post, but then they sent me something that I had to take a photo of to show my sister, and I thought maybe other people would find it as perplexing/amusing as we did. So while I was at it, I took photos of the rest of the box too. (You can see my previous posts about Stitch Fix here, which include what I think the value of the service is and who it's best suited to.)

I kept thinking about the perfectly-fitting but defective jeans SF sent me last time. I'd emailed the company that makes them, and they said SF was the only retailer who sold them in tall sizes. I have such a hard time finding flattering, comfortable jeans that are the right length, so I finally caved and ordered another "fix". I added a note specifically requesting another pair of those jeans. Here's what I got this time.

What I kept:

stitch fix review

The coveted jeans from Kensie, which fit just like the last pair, but without lopsided pockets. They are so comfortable that I sometimes forget to change into yoga pants for hours after I get home, which is saying a lot. I do not usually keep my outside clothes on at home. They are also thick and sturdy, so I don;t think they will wear out any time soon. (The whiskering is less conspicuous in person.)

These sage colored/grey-green pants from Level 99 don't look like much on the hanger, but they are shockingly flattering on me - perfect length, nicely cut, straight leg, medium rise. And so soft and comfortable. They are stretchy but they don't bag or get stretched out of shape. They are made out of an apparently magical fibre called tencel (or Lyocell), which I hadn't encountered before. I really thought carefully about whether or not I should keep these, because they cost $80, and they didn't seem like the most versatile thing in the world. I conferred with my sister, though, and she enabled me  - because how often do not-terrible pants come along? They've turned out to be wearable for more occasions than I originally thought, too. I even wore them on a flight. That's a true test of comfort.

What I sent back:

I'll just start with the pièce de résistance.

What even is this?? For some reason, I find this top hilarious. In case it isn't clear, it's like a sweater that I would have picked out at Sears when I was 13 with just the bottom part of a shirt attached to it. It's some kind of Frankenstein garment. I get the concept of those tops that look like sweaters with button up shirts under then, but there isn't an actual shirt, so that you can avoid lumpiness - that's not what this is. This just has the bottom of the shirt. The low v-neck with no collar makes it abundantly clear that there's simply some weird fabric hanging from the bottom. It's confusing and meaningless and ugly. I don't know why they sent me this, but it did provide some entertainment. I think I recoiled the second I pulled it out of the box.

stitch fix review

This cardigan was okay, but I don't really do sequins. I feel like they would be especially annoying to have on your elbows if you wanted to lean on something (bad table manners).

This top seemed to be poorly made. You can see how it's hanging kind of wonky on the hanger - it was like that on me too. The buttons on the sleeves stuck out and it was overall lumpy and awkward. Not worth what they wanted for it.

As usual, Stitch Fix is a bit of a crapshoot. This is the first time I've ever liked two things in my box enough to actually buy them both, and they were both pants. That's some kind of miracle. But then everything else wasn't even close. At least I got some entertainment out of it.

Here's my referral link if you'd like to roll the dice.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude Eyeshadow Palette vs. Paula's Choice The Nude Mattes Eyeshadow Palette

Disclosure: This post contains referral links.
I got TheBalm's Meet Matt(e) Nude eyeshadow palette in September after reading positive reviews of it and deciding that I needed some less shimmery eye options for work. I picked it up for $21 from Hautelook, which, as I've said before, is really the best place I've come across to buy TheBalm products, so long as you can be a little patient. They're almost always marked down 50% and they have a good selection there, including most of the newer palettes and other products. (TheBalm usually has a 50% off sale once or twice a year on their own site, but it almost always seems to be a mess, with the site crashing all over the place, and it only lasts 24 hours.) TheBalm is on HauteLook at this very moment, which is why I figured it would be a good idea to write up this comparison today (in case my saying it's "fine" ignites a burning passion in anyone?).

I posted a quick review of the palette on Instagram and noted that the shadows were fine, but that there were no good highlight shades. Most of the shades are very dark, with the exception of one fairly stark white, which I just don't find useful.

Then in December Paula's Choice had a deal where you could get their Nude Mattes eyeshadow palette, which is usually $40, for free with a $60 purchase. Since I had some credits to use and I needed to replace some of my regular products anyway, I made a bigger order than I would usually do in order to get the eyeshadow palette. Exactly what they wanted me to do. I was a good mark, obviously. Why do I need another eyeshadow palette when I have approximately a billion fucking eyeshadows that I am never going to use up, you ask? I DON'T. This is why I'm trying to get my shit together. And as part of that, I've decided that I am going to get rid of one of these two palettes. I wanted to compare them, and I was not-so-secretly hoping that TheBalm came out behind, since it's less versatile. Since I wanted to do the comparison for myself anyway, and since writing these things out helps me make decisions, I figured I might as well make a post of it. So here we go.

Paula's Choice The Nude Mattes and TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude
Paula's Choice The Nude Mattes and TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude
Paula's Choice The Nude Mattes and TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude
Paula's Choice The Nude Mattes and TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude
The comparison is pretty simple. I used the brush that came with the PC palette, which is a soft but otherwise not very effective brush, to swatch shades that look similar. Obviously they are not identical, but I thought it made sense to compare them this way. I didn't swatch every shade. TheBalm palette has 9 and the PC palette has 12. I didn't do a comparison for the white ("Matt Malloy") or the yellowish ("Matt Lombardi") shades, since nothing in the PC palette came close, and they are shadows I'm not likely to use anyway. Here's how things compare without the use of primer.

Swatches of Paula's Choice The Nude Mattes (top row) and TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude (bottom row)
Swatches of Paula's Choice The Nude Mattes (top row) and TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude (bottom row)
Overall, I guess TheBalm's shadows are slightly more pigmented (maybe?), but the think the difference is negligible. TheBalm's browns perform a bit better, but the grays/taupes are the same or worse. Note that the PC shadows might be just a little more powdery, in case mess bothers you, and the powder does show up on the black packaging. The texture of the TheBalm shadows is not perfect, either, though.

Then I swatched two similar shades from each palette (a grey/taupe and a brown) over Wet N Wild eyeshadow primer (my favorite primer, all things considered), since I always use primer when I wear eyeshadow. It makes sense to compare them that way, for me.

Swatches of Paula's Choice The Nude Mattes (top row) and TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude (bottom row)
Swatches of Paula's Choice The Nude Mattes (top row) and TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude (bottom row)
With primer, there's really no difference at all. That means I'm going to ditch the palette from TheBalm and keep the one from Paula's Choice.

In an overall comparison, they each have strengths and weaknesses - and since their regular price is very close ($42 for Meet Matt(e) Nudes vs. $40 for The Nude Mattes), they are worth considering together. The advantage of the PC set is that it has more shades, and that it has more light shades to use for highlighting. It even has one shimmer/satin light shade to use for that purpose. It's a little heavy on the darker shades, I think, which is a negative for me. It goes from very light to very dark quickly, without much in the middle. I would gladly exchange the black, which is a color that I already have a million versions of and one that I rarely use, for another medium shade. Maybe a lighter taupe.

TheBalm's palette has the advantage of containing more than twice as much product for only an extra $2 (25.5 g vs. 12 g), so value wise it's a better deal. (You do get a brush with the PC set, and they clearly tried to go for a non-crap brush, but it's pretty lackluster, so I'm not factoring it into the value.) Meet Matt(e) Nude also has some more unusual shades, if you already own a lot of neutrals. But for me that wasn't a big plus, since the unusual ones are a yellowish beige that looks dreadful on me, and a barely-off white that I really can't find a use for. It's also not really a palette than I can use on its own, because I like to have a highlight color, and that white isn't doing it for me. So it wouldn't be great for travel, for example. (Maybe the original Meet Matt(e) palette would be a better choice, but I haven't tried it. And I won't be buying more eyeshadow for a while.) As for the design of the packaging? That might be a plus or a minus for you. I'm personally not a huge fan of the big dude face on it.

For me, the PC palette makes more sense to hold on to. If you were considering both of them at full price, TheBalm is a better value - and it is especially a lot of product for your dollar if you get it half price from Hautelook. The best deal you're probably going to get on the Paula's Choice palette, unless they give it away as a gift with purchase again, is to use someone's referral link (here's mine) for $10 off a purchase on a new account. And wait until they offer free shipping, which happens pretty frequently. $30 is better than $40.

I am usually someone with Opinions, but I'm going to have to say this one comes down to what you will personally get more use out of. In terms of performance, the two are virtually the same. You get more product from TheBalm, but if you're never going to use it all, then that's not necessarily worth paying for. I'm going to ditch TheBalm's palette, because it's taking up space, and I need to be more brutal about culling my hoard.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Getting my shit together

I've been trying to organize myself this year, so far. Not really as a New Year's resolution, but it so happens that with the new year comes a slightly less horrendous, or at least more flexible, schedule for me, and so I am attempting to take advantage of that. One of my main goals is to sort out my apartment. I moved in August, but I didn't find time during the entire fall to completely unpack. I had a friend stay with me for a week in December, and I had to make her sleep on an air mattress in the living room instead of the spare bedroom/office, because that room was completely filled with boxes and bags of crap that I hadn't gone through since moving. I still haven't been able to put away all of that shit, but I did manage to clean off my desk, and now I have a work space that is not my bed or my couch. It's amazing how much more productive that has made me. When I sit at the desk, I actually get work done. It helps that it is in the corner facing the window, so I can't see the heaps of clutter that are still piled on the other side of the room - but I'm chipping away at those. At this rate, by the time I (likely) move out of here in the summer, I'll finally have everything sorted out.

Part of my process of getting my shit together involves ridding myself of shit I don't need and not acquiring additional shit. My biggest mass of hoarded stuff is my collection of (surprise!) makeup, nail polish, and skincare. Though I haven't set any strict goals for myself, I am trying hard to use things up and to discard things that I don't want to use. I just filled up a box with nail polish and makeup and posted an offer on Freecycle. Hopefully someone will take it off of my hands. I have a few nicer things that I just don't use, and I think I am going to try selling them to Glambot. (Anyone have experience selling to that site? I'm curious to hear about it.) I am also trying to use things that have been sitting around for a long time - not just makeup, but things like travel size bottles and packets of shampoo. I think I have enough of those hoarded at this point that I can probably go six months minimum without having to buy any shampoo or conditioner. I have been holding on to them, because they are useful for travel. I used to go overseas to do research, but I haven't done that in a few years. I have no idea when I will have secure enough employment to get research trips funded again, so there's no use keeping that shit around for who knows how many years. I can always buy more small bottles of hair products in the future if I need to (or save some empty bottles and refill them).

I'm also trying not to buy any new makeup for two reasons: to save money, and to use up some of the things I already have (original concepts, I know). I haven't bought anything so far this year, and I don't really foresee doing much makeup shopping for a while, though I am still regularly tempted. (Yesterday Nouveau Cheap posted that my favorite topcoat was on sale for $10, but by the time I saw it, it was sold out. So, yay?) I am still getting Birchboxes, since I paid for a year in advance, so I do occasionally have new little things to play with. But the lack of buying is one of the reasons this blog has been moving a bit away from reviews - though it never was strictly (or even mainly, I think) reviews. The other reason is that I don't have a lot of free time, and so I haven't been posting a lot of anything, obviously. I think I am going to be posting more things like empties and quick reviews of things I have had for a while, instead. I hope those are interesting for other people - I always enjoy them when I see them on other blogs.

If you're in a place where you are also trying to cut down on clutter and stop buying things you don't need and organize your space, there are of course lots of resources out there. It seems like everyone feels like they are failing at this - we can't all be, right? But here are some of the places I've found motivation or commiseration:

The Makeup Talk No-Buy Support Forum: There are lots of interesting conversations going on here from people who feel like they have too much makeup. Reading through these, you'll either feel like you've found your people, or you'll feel some kind of relief because it turns out that many other people actually have way more stuff than you do (I won't say which category I fit in myself). I've had fun in these forums. If you want to make some serious changes, there are lots of challenges and projects people are working on that you can take part in.

When Budget Beauty Starts to Hurt: This is just a short article about how quickly buying cheap makeup can add up (from The Billfold). Don't I know it. (Sorry if I have enabled anyone else's hoarding.)

Unfuck Your Habitat: This fits in the cleaning/organizing category. I totally knew about UFYH before it was cool, guys. And yet I haven't really used it - but I am still recommending it, because I know a lot of people who have found it extremely helpful. They have an app that is supposed to be great, too, and I think I am going to buy it soon and actually give it a go.

The January Cure from Apartment Therapy: I signed up for the mailing list and then immediately fell behind, because my schedule was too erratic (the downside of the "flexible" schedule I mentioned above). But the sequence of tasks is a good one, and I am thinking that I will try to work through them at a much (much, much) slower rate.

So that's just me rambling about my general goals and intentions. I have been doing pretty good so far. It's slow progress, but I am not increasing my hoard, my apartment is slowly coming into order. Today I pulled all the bags of old shoes and winter wear and curtains (?) out of the hall closet. They are still in a pile in the middle of the room, but they are my next mess to tackle. I've also found more time for cooking, which I really couldn't seem to do much of in the fall. That's been really good both for my budget and my health (I love my crock pot).

Anyone else on this same track? Any other resources or links to related stuff you'd like to share?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Travel size

I took a photo of all the mini products I took home with me to my parents' place for the holidays when I was there. I've now been home for well over a week, so I guess I should post about them already, before I completely lose interest/memory.

My family lives in part of North America that is extremely fucking cold and dry during the winter. The dryness is amped up by the cold, of course, because it means furnaces running around the clock. Every time I go back there, my face freaks out, apparently from trying to adjust to the difference in climate. This time, I finally remembered to bring a shitload of moisturizers to prevent that reaction. And so, naturally, the weather this year was warm enough to be rainy - i.e. not fucking dry. Sigh. But I still moisturized the hell out of my face and my skin was quite happy for the whole visit.

Here are all the little tubes and tubs and bottles and packets I brought with me, with the goal of emptying out as much as possible and leaving the packages in my parents' garbage can. I also brought mostly things that I hadn't tried before to force myself to branch out.

Hard to take good photos in the low winter sun.
Things I finished:

Pacifica Purify face wipes: These worked fine. They are quite small, but maybe that's because this is a travel pack? They smell just like the Pacifica Sea Foam face wash (mini review here): coconuty, fine. I wouldn't buy them, because I found them a little too drying and kind of burny. I am mostly loyal to my Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes. Nothing else I've tried compares. I buy them in multiple packs on Amazon.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream: I'd read many a rave review for this stuff, but I wasn't impressed. I didn't like the medicinal eucalyptus scent; it wasn't particularly hydrating; and it also felt slightly burny. I don't like burny sensations on my face. I have no idea what is supposed to be "ultra" about this shit.

Paula's Choice 2% BHA Lotion: This was fine, though I didn't use it long enough to judge its long-term effects. Though it's supposed to be for drier skin, it dries to a matte finish, unlike the slicker-feeling 2% BHA liquid (reviewed here). I prefer the liquid, but if you don't like how that stuff feels on your face, you might consider giving this a try. It's also slightly moisturizing.

Kate Somerville Quench Oil Free Hydrating Serum: My memory of this is already pretty damned foggy. I think it was lightly moisturizing and had a thin consistency, but it obviously didn't make much of an impact on me.

Burt's Bees Intense Hydration Day Lotion: I used this at night, because it's very greasy. I wouldn't recommend it during the day, unless you have extremely dry skin. When I'd wake up in the morning after a full night's sleep, I could still feel the greasiness on my face. That said, it does moisturize well. This was the last packet I had left from the stuff I was sent by BzzAgent in 2012 (reviewed here). I actually liked the scent quite a lot when I used it this time around.

Burt's Bees Radiance Eye Cream: This smells gross and it's greasy. I used it on my feet. It worked well for that.

Nourish Organics Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion: This is a mediocre product. First of all, it smells like artificial oranges. Second, it wasn't particularly moisturizing, which is one of the main qualities I look for in a moisturizer. I'm just super weird like that.

Things I gave away:

Pur-lisse Pur-protect Moisturizer SPF 30: I gave this to my mother. One of the things I'm pickiest about when it comes to sunscreen is if they don't soak in/dry quickly enough and smear into my eyes. Have I mentioned I don't like burniness? Sunscreen in the eyes is burny. I have to be able to use sunscreens around my eyes, or they're useless. This one got in my eyes repeatedly, so it's useless. The end.

Coola Matte Tint SPF 30: On the plus side, the tint is pretty much invisible, so almost anyone could use this. On the minus, it made my skin feel tight and dry. Gave this one to my mother too.

Things I did not finish:

Smith's Rosebud Salve: Not sure why I included this in the photo, since it's not a mini, and I really had no realistic hope of finishing it while I was away. I have been using it for well over a year and still have a at least quarter left, if not a third. I previously reviewed it here and said I didn't love it. Since then, I've become really fond of it - but I still only use it for a single purpose. I smear it around my nostrils before bed. I am a particularly sniffly person for reasons that medical science has not been able to explain to me. I am constantly using kleenexes - in a very discreet and polite way in public, of course, but at home there are piles of them everywhere, so give me some warning if you want to come over, please. This means that ordinarily my nose is pretty red and dry and irritated and flaky - unless I use this salve on it every night. With the exception of times when I have an actual cold or something, using this stuff at night keeps my flaky nostrils under control. Sexy. Also, I think I now associate the rose scent with going to sleep, so some psychological benefits have become attached to it.

Peter Thomas Roth Oiless Oil: It's oil. It's pure squalane. I had some hopes of finishing this, and I might have used it more often if the weather had been drier. But I still have at least half of this tiny bottle left, because you really only need 1-2 drops for your whole face. I've been trying to use this up for many, many months. I'm not sure if I've seen any special results, but if you want to try it out, and you can get your hands on a mini bottle, you will definitely have enough to really test it thoroughly.

Paula's Choice Clear Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution (2% BHA, Regular Strength): This doesn't work as well for me as the Clear Extra Strength or the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA liquid, but it's better than nothing, I guess, and I had a convenient travel size.

Coppertone Clearly Sheer SPF 30 lotion: You can see my full review here. Of the three sunscreens I brought, this was the least annoying. Nothing matches my Kinesys sunscreen for convenience and comfort and general awesomeness.

So that's what I used to keep my face moisturized and protected while visiting the not-quite arctic tundra. Mainly I was able to test and rule out a bunch of different products, which is an entertaining process, if nothing else. Like I said, my skin stayed happy the whole trip, so even though I wasn't particularly impressed by anything here, nothing was terrible, burniness aside. (I promise to never write "burny" on this blog again after today. Probably.)

Friday, January 9, 2015

3 full size and 3 mini Zoya nail polishes for $15 shipped

Use code NYNH. You get to choose the full size ones, but the minis are mystery shades that have never and will never be for sale (???). And this deal is also open to Canada! Expires Jan. 14. More info here.

(Someone remind me I already have too much nail polish. Zoya is probably my favorite brand . . . )

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Has Revlon Lip Butter in Fig Jam been discontinued?

I saw a listing for some of them on Ebay that said they were d/c. Why would Revlon do that? Oh, right, because of this. Anyway, if you love that one, you might want to grab it if you see some left in the store. I have one, but I never really find myself using it. I put it on my "meh" list. Are you going to miss it? Or is the Ebay seller just trying to trick us?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A bunch of swatches of pale-ass foundations

Despite always claiming to have a fairly neutral skin tone, I recently became convinced that I needed a yellowish foundation to get the best match. While it's definitely true that most of the foundations I've tried have been too cool/pink, going full-on yellow wasn't that solution either, as you'll see. I'm definitely neutral. [Insert tired Switzerland joke here.] Of all the products below, the one that looks like the worst match for my pasty skin actually turns out to be the best, for reasons I'll explain below.
Maybelline Fit Me Shine-Free Foundation Stick in Porcelain (110), Revlon Colorstay Makeup (Oily/Combination) in Ivory, Boots No7 Lift and Luminate Foundation in Cool Vanilla, Sephora Perfecting Tinted Moisturizer (discontinued), Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation in Fair Sand, and Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation in Light Vanilla
Left to right: Maybelline Fit Me Shine-Free Foundation Stick in Porcelain (110), Revlon Colorstay Makeup (Oily/Combination) in Ivory, Boots No7 Lift and Luminate Foundation in Cool Vanilla, Sephora Perfecting Tinted Moisturizer (discontinued), Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation in Fair Sand, and Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation in Light Vanilla
I've had the four products on the left for at least a year; the two on the right I bought this year during Black Friday sales, and they've have both since been returned. Here are swatches, and then I'll talk a little about each one.
Swatches (left to right) of Maybelline Fit Me Shine-Free Foundation Stick in Porcelain (110), Revlon Colorstay Makeup (Oily/Combination) in Ivory, Boots No7 Lift and Luminate Foundation in Cool Vanilla, Sephora Perfecting Tinted Moisturizer (discontinued), Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation in Fair Sand, and Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation in Light Vanilla
Swatches (left to right) of Maybelline Fit Me Shine-Free Foundation Stick in Porcelain (110), Revlon Colorstay Makeup (Oily/Combination) in Ivory, Boots No7 Lift and Luminate Foundation in Cool Vanilla, Sephora Perfecting Tinted Moisturizer (discontinued), Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation in Fair Sand, and Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation in Light Vanilla

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Matte lipstick for people who are afraid of matte lipstick: Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Mattes in Lust for Blush, Touch of Spice, and Divine Wine

Even though I am trying not to buy more shit (and I've been doing pretty good), I somehow ended up with these three lipsticks. A bit of a gamble for someone who isn't a huge lipstick wearer, and who has found almost every matte lipstick I've ever tried to be hideously fucking uncomfortable, but I'd seen such good reviews that they seemed worth a shot. I also had some CVS coupons to use, and I wanted some more neutral lip colors for work. I ended up being way, way more impressed with these things than I'd hoped, so I don't regret them a bit.

Swatches of Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Mattes in Lust for Blush, Touch of Spice, and Divine Wine
Swatches of Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Mattes in Lust for Blush, Touch of Spice, and Divine Wine
My lip swatch photos aren't particularly impressive, and I'm not sure if the camera, the lighting, or my lips themselves are to blame. (Blogger is also doing that annoying fucking thing where it washes out the color of my photos when I upload them, even though I have photo enhancing turned off and I saved them as PNGs, etc., etc.) Let me direct you to other photos Touch of Spice and Divine Wine, so you can get a fuller sense of how they might look on you. I've included my mediocre photos below so you can see the contrast between these shades and my pasty skin, in case you are similarly pale. For example, Touch of Spice looks like the medium neutral on many people, but on me it is really quite dark and warm. It doesn't look vampy, but it's definitely a bit intense. Flattering though! Divine Wine is very vampy on me, and I haven't actually worn it out yet, because drama. But I will! The nice thing about it is that it isn't completely purple. Purple lipsticks tend to draw out the purple in my face and require a lot of other makeup to make sure I don't look like a corpse. This one has enough brown in it that it doesn't do that, while still looking like a true wine color. Lust for Blush is close to my natural lip color, but pinker. It looks pretty subtle when I wear it.

Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lipstick in Lust for Blush
Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lipstick in Lust for Blush
Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lipstick in Touch of Spice
Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lipstick in Touch of Spice
Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lipstick in Touch of Spice
Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lipstick in Divine Wine
The formula of these is delightful in every way. They texture is just perfect, so I can apply Touch of Spice and Lust for Blush directly from the bullet and get a neat enough line without having to fuck around with a lip liner. I think they look a little sloppy in the close up, but from a normal distance, they look perfectly neat. I used a Jordana lip liner (in Cabernet Wine) to clean up the edges of Divine Wine, because it is so dark that any unevenness is more obvious.

They're not drying at all - and I'm really picky about products drying out my lips. I just won't even bother with anything that dries out my lips, because they get chapped easily enough already. And these lipsticks wear fantastically well, despite not being uncomfortable like more long-wearing products. They last for hours. You can snack and have a drink and your face will still look great. They go on opaque in one swipe and aren't patchy (despite the somewhat misleading photo of Divine Wine above). If your lips aren't perfectly smooth, they won't look like shit. This lipstick doesn't exactly camouflage roughness, but it also doesn't highlight it or settle into lines. It has no real scent or taste. I honestly have no complaints about this shit. It's some of the easiest, best lipstick I've ever tried. I'm thinking 2015 might be the year I finally embrace lipstick, though ideally without buying a bunch more of them. Because look: dupes. Well, sort of.

Swatches/dupes of Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte in Lust for Blush vs ULTA Lip Crayon in Fashionista, and Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte in Touch of Spice vs. Lord & Berry 20100 Lipstick Pencil in Intimacy
Swatches/dupes of Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte in Lust for Blush vs ULTA Lip Crayon in Fashionista, and Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte in Touch of Spice vs. Lord & Berry 20100 Lipstick Pencil in Intimacy.
The ULTA pencil is a little cooler and a bit more drying. It also has a slightly gross lipsticky smell. The Lord & Berry pencil is much nicer than the ULTA one, though it smells a bit too. The color is almost identical to Touch of Spice, but it's creamy rather than matte. I'm a big fan of the L&B, but the formula isn't as long wearing or foolproof as the Maybelline.

No dupes for Divine Wine! That one is a whole new adventure for me.

Friday, December 5, 2014

"Nice Girls Who Like Stuff": Analysis of beauty vloggers and their business models (from The Hairpin)

This is an interesting article that I meant to link to months ago and just found in my drafts folder. It talks about the inoffensive homogeneity that defines the most popular YouTube beauty gurus and how they perfect that formula to make big, big bucks (or big truckloads of free swag).

Seems especially pertinent now with the news that Zoella's book is breaking records for sales.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What makes $675 nail polish better than drugstore nail polish?

Do you think anyone was like, "I have no idea why this would cost so much money," but they didn't include those people, because it's not as funny? There had to be someone, right? RIGHT?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review: Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum

I'm not going to blog about all the Black Friday sales, even though they are great for being cheap. First, I don't want to know about all the good deals out there right now, because I am trying to avoid buying more things. If I listed sales here, I would almost certainly have to buy something. Or things. I own too much shit, and I need to stop. Second, it would be redundant, because Nouveau Cheap has you covered.

I am, however, going to take advantage of the 15% off + free shipping deal from Paula's Choice to replace a couple of things that I needed to buy anyway. I always wait for them to offer free shipping before I order anything, and even though 15% off isn't huge, it's a nice bonus. (The free shipping applies to both US and Canadian orders, by the way.) I need some more 2% BHA liquid (review here). I'm also tempted to try the 4% BHA foam, which had been out of stock for a while. It's back and has great reviews. I have a few days to decide, since the sale goes until the end of the week (it's a little unclear exactly how long, but they call it "cyber week"). There's no code. If it's your first time ordering from them, you can also get $10 off by signing up through my invite link (I also get $10). Ebates (referral link) also has 6% cash back, which I will definitely be using (more info on using Ebates here and here).

Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum (empty!)
This seems like a good time for a review of the Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum, since I already had the photos on my phone waiting for me to scrounge up some free time. I have almost a week off! Amazing. I mean, I do have to write up and send out seven job applications and also try to plan the courses I'm teaching next semester, but I get to do most of that from home in while wearing yoga pants.

I just started my second tube of this serum. I've been using it 4-5 times a week in the mornings since September, so I think that's a pretty decent amount of time for it to last, even though the tube is small. I actually started it back in July, when I mentioned it here, but didn't start using it regularly until the fall. Back then I said I wouldn't be buying it again unless it did something "really impressive" . . . and here we are.

I don't actually know how to tell if it's having any long term results. That's true of most (all?) products I use. I guess if my skin stays looking about the same over time, then at least the big bad environment isn't damaging it too much, so maybe it's protected or whatever.

I absolutely love the immediate results that this serum gives me, though. I think the difference is that I'm now using it first thing in the morning, rather than before bed, and so I have a chance to observe its effects on my skin while I'm awake. I still find it moisturizing enough that I don't need an additional moisturizer, even though it's getting wintery and the furnace is running all the time. I use it after washing my face and applying BHA liquid with a glamorous piece of flannel. The antioxidant serum makes my skin feel really fucking nice. I never understood what people meant when they wrote in skin care reviews that their skin felt "plump" after using something. Swollen? Sounded weird to me. But I think this is it! It's softer and more cushiony, but definitely not tight. Like your face is a beauty blender that you ran under water once. Except without swelling. DOES THAT HELP? Sorry. Let me start over.

This shit makes my skin feel significantly smoother and softer after I apply it in the morning. So soft. So fucking soft. The other great thing is that it smoothes out dry, flaky patches. I usually have those on my chin and almost always around my nose. This cures those flakes in a way no moisturizer I've used has ever done, and it means I can put makeup over those parts of my face without it looking gross. It makes my face happy. Oh, and it has a really, um, appetizing appearance. This is about 5 drops, which is what I use on my face and neck each day.

Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
I'm guessing it's the hyaluronic acid that's responsible for most of the effects I like. If you can find a cheaper product with that ingredient in it, you might want to try that instead. And let me know if it's wonderful? For now, since I really, really like this shit, I am not inclined to experiment and potentially spend even more money buying a bunch of other slightly less expensive stuff that may not work. At around $30 (or more) for 1 oz., I realize that it is definitely not cheap. Even breaking it down to $8-10 or slightly per month is kind of shockingly expensive. But if you're feeling fancy, this might also make your face feel fancy. I just want you to know that. Please don't yell at me. I'm still cheap. I swear.

On the other hand, the Skin Balancing Antioxidant Serum with Retinol is less pleasant. It has that thick, gelatinous-yet-siliconey texture that doesn't feel great to apply and doesn't have many immediately noticeable results. It does mattify, so they suggest that you can use it as a primer. There's that. Maybe it's doing something long term, but maybe my beloved Resist antioxidant serum is also doing something long term, and it's instantly goddamned miraculous.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Instagram Mini-Review Roundup

Obviously I've been slacking in the blogging department. I miss it! The best I've been able to do for the last couple of months is to take a quick photo of something with my phone in the morning on the way out the door, and then write up a paragraph review of it on the bus on the way to work. Instagram is the most obvious and convenient medium for posts of that sort. I know, however, that not everyone uses Instagram, and I don't think you should feel like you have to. So in case these things are of any interest at all to non-Instagram users, I though I would post a little link roundup. (If you follow me on Tumblr, you've probably already seen these, too.) You can view the photos and reviews on the web (i.e. you don't need the app), and if you have any questions - since they are very bare bones - you can ask here.

Bonus: You can try to figure out how long I go between changing my bedding. (Don't judge too harshly - sometimes I take several photos the same morning when I have a few minutes to spare and then post them one at a time over the following days or weeks.) You can also play Spot the Cat! Puzzles and brain teasers for everyone!

I'll try to write more real posts when I can, but for the time being, there's these:

Batiste Dry Shampoo in Cherry

ULTA Amped Lashes Mascara

Maybelline Mineral Power Finishing Veil (translucent loose powder)

Boots No. 7 Lift and Luminate Foundation and Lord & Berry Cream Foundation in White

Mirabella Prime for Face and Eyes

The Balm Meet Matt(e) Nude Eyeshadow Palette

Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion (as eye makeup remover)

e.l.f. Essential Lipstick in Posh vs. Too Faced La Creme Lipstick in Cinnamon Kiss

The Balm Time Balm Concealer + Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer

DermOrganic Leave-In Treatment with Argan Oil

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Lip Balm SPF 15

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Is "diversion" of salon hair care products a conspiracy theory?

I suspect that some people will get really heated up about this and argue with me, because they are trained hairstylists or salon owners or whatever, and I admit to not being an expert. Most of the explanations, however, of how fake, expired, or stolen salon products supposedly end up in mainstream drug and groceries stores have all the earmarks of a conspiracy theory. Namely, they don't stand up to scrutiny or make a lot of sense, when you think about them. In some versions, the shady distributers are storing up products for months or years until they expire, because then they apparently can no longer be tracked by their bar codes after a certain amount of time (?), and then they sell them to CVS, Target, etc. And that major corporation is totally cool with this, because they don't fear lawsuits from selling supposedly contaminated products one bit! Nope! In other versions (and sometimes combined with the previous ones), the crooks are emptying out half of the good product and filling the rest of the bottle with water or alcohol because . . . ??? Do they also have a stockpile of fake bottles to dump the other half of the product into? In that case, why buy the legit product at all? Why not just fake it all?

Anyway, yell at me if you like, but I suspect that this is something that stylists are taught in school, probably by people who really do think it is true (and maybe those people are told it by salon hair care brand sales reps). I don't think the stylists are lying - I think they believe it. Just like when they tell you that drugstore products with silicone will make your hair worse. The most logical explanation is that salons want you to buy products from them (which is reasonable) and so they need to have some kind of explanation for why what you find at the salon is better than what you find elsewhere.

I'm not saying there aren't counterfeit beauty products out there. But I doubt that Walgreens has been selling them - or stolen merchandise - for decades with no repercussions.

Do you have a better explanation for how this "gray market" functions? One that explains how it is profitable to the distributors and worthwhile to the large retailers? I'd love to hear it. ETA: I'm not just saying that. Everything I've found has been unconvincing. The argument that they sometimes actually cost more at mass retailers than salons is interesting, but not totally relevant, I think. That's just about shopping around for good prices.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Revlon Colorburst Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush (Review)

So it occurred to me that if I could take mediocre photos with my phone and post them to Instagram, I could also take mediocre photos with my phone and post them to my blog, cutting out at least part of the process and saving some time. What a treat for you. Let's face it, though, if you are someone who demands flawless photography, you're probably not a reader of my blog anyway.

Revlon Colorburst Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush

Here's a quick review of this glossy stain stuff from Revlon. On the plus side, it is a gorgeous pinkish coral color, it does feel moisturizing, and it does leave a stain. On the minus, the pretty coral glossiness wears away quite quickly, and on my lips, at least, which are fairly pigmented, the stain just ends up being slightly pink. That fucking awesome coral lasts maybe 30-40 min tops. I wouldn't be too disappointed it it were a regular gloss, but since it's supposed to stain, it's a big womp womp.

Immediately after applying, it's vibrant, glossy, and a little milky. It can look slightly patchy, but it becomes more translucent within minutes, so the patchiness goes away.

This second photo was taken about 20 min later. As you can see, most of the gloss has worn off and the color is less vibrant. The stain tends to wear away more in the middle of my lips, but that's pretty normal.

Revlon Colorburst Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush

So while I don't dislike this shit, exactly, I'm kind of disappointed that this was what I decided to use my precious CVS bucks on. I already have plenty of pink lip products, including stains. I wanted coral. I'm trying not to buy any more makeup these days because I have way too fucking much, and this was sadly not an exciting way to break that no buy streak.

It's not a bad product and you might have better luck if your lips are less pigmented or if you choose a different shade. At 0.27 oz. it's bigger than most glosses. If you already own any of the recent glossy stains that pretty much every company has been putting out, including the ones in the photo below, then you basically know how it's going to feel and apply, etc. I'd say it's closest to the L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain (briefly reviewed here), which also starts out a little more milky/opaque and then sets to a more translucent appearance.

(And then I finished writing this post on my phone and realized that the Blogger app doesn't let you add links so I had to do that on my computer, and it screws up the formatting, and what the fuck, why is it so terrible? I tried.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stitch Fix Again

No one wants to hear about how busy you are. Everyone is busy. I've been busy, so I'll leave it at that. The problem is that I also haven't been buying anything new to show you, and I haven't have time to take photos of crap I already have, so for the most part that leaves nothing but the occasional Instagram quickie. But I did take photos of the StitchFix box I got last month, so I figured I'd at least post those, in case anyone is interested. It's something! I had a different (better) experience than the first time I used the service, so it's worth an update. (But you can read more about the basics of the service at that link.)

The last time I used StitchFix, I had 3 main issues. The clothes they sent were: (1) too young, (2) too small, and (3) too expensive. This time around, they did much better in the first two categories. The stuff was still expensive, though, and I honestly probably would not have ordered anything if I hadn't had a credit (thanks to whoever clicked the link in my previous review!).

The only things I changed in my profile from last time (I think) was erring on the larger side where I am in between sizing, and saying that I mainly wanted work clothes, with some casual things as well.

Here's what I got:

Brixon Ivy Coco Swiss Dot Roll-Tab Blouse ($78): sheer, navy polyester blouse with flocked dots. It's not quite as vibrant as it appears here - just a dark navy blue. This fit well and is really cute.